In Texas, the minimum age to work is 14. Unlike some states, Texas does not require juvenile workers to obtain a child employment certificate or an age certificate to work. A prospective employer that wants one can request a certificate of age for any minors it employs, obtainable from the Texas Workforce Commission. Proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport, is required to get a certificate of age, as is a recent photo of the applicant.
Minor Workers' Hours
In Texas, state requirements mandate that youths 14 and 15 years old may not work more than eight hours per day or exceed 48 hours per week. They cannot work before 5 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on a day before a school day, which includes summer school sessions. In addition, juveniles in this age bracket may not work past midnight on a day before a nonschool day.
The work practices for minors ages 14 and 15 are subject to federal law also. Federal law prohibits people these ages from working at all during school hours. When school is in session, they may not work more than three hours per day or exceed 18 hours per week. When school is not in session, they may work a maximum of eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.
Moreover, these teens may only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year. Federal law allows young people ages 14 and 15 to work up to 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day.
Jobs Available to Texas Minors
A Texan age 14 or 15 is limited to doing certain kinds of work in certain types of businesses, which include retail and foodservice establishments and gas stations. They can do office and clerical work, which includes operating office machines such as copiers and fax machines, and can serve as cashiers in most retail locations. Exceptions would include a store that sells adult merchandise or an establishment that serves or sells alcohol.
Teenagers 14 and 15 years old can price merchandise with pricing devices or by hand and can assemble merchandise as well as pack it and place it on shelves. Bagging groceries or other merchandise also is permitted, as is delivery work, if done by bicycle or public transportation, or on foot. Here is the full list of approved occupations, according to the Texas Workforce Commission:
- Office and clerical work (including operation of office machines)
- Cashiering, selling, modeling, artwork, work in advertising departments, window trimming, and comparative shopping
- Price marking and tagging by hand or by machine; assembling orders, packing, and shelving
- Bagging and carrying out customers' orders
- Errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle, and public transportation
- Cleanup work, including the use of vacuum cleaners and floor waxers, and maintenance of grounds, but not including the use of power-driven mowers or cutters
- Kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of such work such as, but not limited to, dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milkshake blenders, and coffee grinders.
Work in connection with cars and trucks if confined to the following:
- Dispensing gasoline and oil
- Courtesy service on premises of gasoline service station
- Car cleaning, washing, and polishing
- Other occupations permitted by this section but not including work involving the use of pits, racks or lifting apparatus or involving the inflation of any tire mounted on a rim equipped with a removable retaining ring
Prohibited Occupations for Texas Minors
Workers between the age of 14 and 15 cannot use power mowers or other cutting machines, but they can use vacuum cleaners and floor waxers as part of cleanup and maintenance work.
Kitchen work and food prep are allowed in certain circumstances, including using dishwashers, toasters, blenders, and coffee grinders. Cleaning vegetables and fruits, and wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking goods is permitted when performed in areas physically separated from areas where meat is prepared for sale and outside freezers or meat coolers.
Teens these ages can serve food to customers, but they are not permitted to handle prepared meat or allowed to work in freezers or meat coolers. The full list of prohibited occupations, according to the Texas Workforce Commission:
- Manufacturing, mining or processing occupations, including occupations requiring the performance of any duties in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined or otherwise processed
- Occupations which involve the operation or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery other than office machines
- The operation of motor vehicles or service as helpers on such vehicles
- Public messenger service
- Occupations which the U.S. Secretary of Labor may declare to be hazardous for the employment of minors between 16 and 18 years of age or detrimental to their health or well-being
Occupations in Connection With:
- Transportation of persons or property by rail, highway, air, water, pipeline or other means
- Warehousing and storage
- Communications and public utilities
- Construction (including demolition and repair)
- Exception: Office work (including ticket office work) or sales work that does not involve the performance of any duties on trains, motor vehicles, aircraft, vessels, or other media of transportation or at the actual site of construction operations.
- Work performed in or about boiler or engine rooms
- Work in connection with maintenance or repair of the establishment or equipment
- Outside window washing that involves working from window sills, and all work requiring the use of ladders, scaffolds or their substitutes
- Cooking and baking
- Including the use of electric and gas grilles that entail cooking over an open flame
- Including the use of deep fryers that are not equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets into and out of oil or grease
- Including the cleaning of kitchen surfaces and non-power driven kitchen equipment - including the filtering, transporting and dispensing of oil and grease - but only when the temperature of the surfaces, equipment, oil, and grease exceeds 100 F
- Occupations which involve operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers, and cutters and bakery-type mixers
- Work in freezers and meat coolers and all work in the preparation of meats for sale
- Loading or unloading goods to and from trucks, railroad cars or conveyors
- All occupations in warehouses except office and clerical work
Child Performer Exemptions
Children under 14 who are employed in the movie or television industries may be able to obtain a child actor/performer authorization, allowing them to work hours outside of those permitted for other jobs. The child's parent or legal guardian should apply for this exemption from the Texas Workforce Commission.
In some conditions, Texans under 16 years of age can appeal for an exemption to the restriction on when and how many hours they can work. Hardship exemptions are granted in situations where the work is necessary to allow the child to support himself or his immediate family.
The appeal should include a detailed outline of the work to be done, the working conditions, and the number of hours the child would work. A letter from the employer that details the work to be performed also should be included in the appeal, as well as a letter from a school official such as a principal, indicating that the school is aware of and in agreement with the work exception.
For more information about working in the Lone Star State, visit the Texas State Labor website. For other states' requirements, consult state Labor Departments. The information they provide can be especially helpful if you live close to a state border and working out of state might be more convenient, or if you plan to spend your summers working in a different part of the country.